$24 Estate Sale Cabinet Makeover

Amazing friends, can I tell you how nice it was to get away for a few days? Our boys are on Spring break this week, so we decided to head to D.C. to see the museums and monuments. There is so much to see! If you ever get the chance to go, be sure to visit the National Archives Museum. We got to see the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, among tons of other super cool documents from our nation’s history.

Here is my favorite thing I found at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History:

It was a humungous dollhouse! My Hubby’s lucky it wasn’t for sale…I really wanted to bring it home.

Alrighty…onto what ya’ll came here for…today’s makeover!

I picked up this cabinet at the same estate sale where I found this shelving unit I shared a couple of weeks ago. It was the final day and everything was half price so this was originally marked at $48, but I got it for a steal at $24!

I don’t normally buy pieces that are already painted, but it was such a great deal that I made an exception this time. I’ve included a few affiliate links so you can find the products I love.

That meant that I had to remove the existing paint, so my rotary sander and I got busy…

I used 100 grit sandpaper first to get most of the paint off, then I followed up with 220 grit to smooth everything out.

I knew that when I painted the areas I sanded back down to bare wood, I would see natural wood coming through after distressing and that is not what I wanted. I decided to stain those areas with these staining cloths.

They dry really quickly and are perfect for this application. I made sure to get all the corners and edges where the stain would show through when sanding.

Once the stain was completely dry (about an hour) I was able to paint…two coats of an oops paint that I made into DIY chalk paint. (Recipe HERE.) It looks like a perfect match for Loft Space by Behr. A light sanding and a coat of Annie Sloan’s clear soft wax, and the outside was done!

fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I decided to paint the fretwork white (Bit of Sugar by Behr) to contrast a little:

fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I just gave it one coat of white and then sanded it all over with 220 grit sandpaper…

fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I did give it a coat of spray shellac first just in case it was a bleeder.

fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

Sounds easy enough, right?

Now let me tell you the tale of the INSIDE, little troublemaker that it was. (Just in case ya’ll think everything always goes according to plan around here.)

Here is how it looked before:

Dirty, but no problem, right?

I gave it a good wipe down with Lysol wipes to start. Then I figured I would need to seal it to prevent bleed-through, so I started by giving it a good coat of Shellac using an old chip brush since that was all I had on hand.

Nope…bled through all over!

Ugh. So I made a Home Depot run to pick up a few foam brushes which is what I usually use. I applied another coat of shellac and waited the recommended one hour before attempting another coat of paint. After applying that coat, I still got bleed through. (Insert curse word.)

How did I finally combat that dreaded bleed-through? 

Every once in a while, you get a piece that is super stubborn. This time I sealed the inside with Annie Sloan’s clear soft wax, and guess what?  I actually still got some areas that bled through, but just a few.

I applied wax again in just those few areas and that did the trick.

I held my breath as I applied my final coat of paint…thankfully it worked that go round:

I sanded the interior lightly and sealed with a final coat of Annie Sloan’s clear soft wax.

The white interior really makes this piece look clean and fresh now…like a place you would actually want to store your freshly washed towels!

fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

My favorite, of course, is the door…

fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

That pretty fretwork detail really makes this piece special.

I used my Logan point driver to resecure the glass and fretwork:


fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I added this glass knob since it didn’t have any way of pulling it open before:

fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I assume the key is what was used to pull it open originally, but that was missing. You can also see in that close-up photo where the edges show the brown stain instead of the natural wood, thanks to the staining cloths.

This would be a perfect piece to store extra bathroom supplies if you had room for it.

fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com



fretwork cabinet makeover from confessionsofaserialdiyer.com

I am thrilled to cross this project off the list!

There’s not a ton of pieces left!

If you missed any of these makeovers so far, you can catch up below:

Estate Sale Shelving Unit Makeover

$4 Thrift Store Tray Makeover

$6 Thrift Store End Table Makeover

Thrift Store Baskets go Coastal

Candle Holders Repurposed

I’ll see ya’ll back here on Tuesday with these two boxes:

UPDATE: Check out how even these simple pieces can be reimagined now HERE!

Thank you all so much for taking time out of your busy day to visit. I truly appreciate every one of you!

May you and your loved ones enjoy a blessed Easter!



Don’t Miss a Thing!

If you like what you see, there are several ways to follow along!

Email * Facebook * Pinterest * Twitter *Instagram


Never miss a thrifty makeover! Receive my new posts right to your inbox!

* indicates required


  1. I really like the cabinet. Glad you kept the fretwork as it is what makes the cabinet stand out!

  2. Mary Kaiser says

    WOW, it is beautiful now!! I am so glad that you figured out what to do to stop the bleeding, now I will know if I come across a piece like that. It turned out so good, I wish I lived close to you so I could go to your shop to purchase it. I am so glad you went to DC. I lived in Quantico in 1980 for one year and I was like a tour guide for my friends and family that came to visit while I lived there. DC is so beautiful to see and live near. I have never seen fireworks like the ones that DC does, and the Beach Boys were playing at the base of the Washington Monument during it, it was unforgettable.

    • Thank you, Mary! We really enjoyed DC this trip. I hadn’t been since I went on a middle school field trip…a lot has changed since then! You are lucky you got to live so close and have such fond memories to share! XOXO

  3. Denise Vagi says

    Christy I was wondering why you didn’t use Zinsser for the bleed through you also have a blessed Easter

    • Hi Denise! Thank you! The shellac I used is actually made by Zinsser and works the same way. The regular Zinsser primer would have had bleed-through as well. Some pieces are just stubborn that way! XOXO

  4. Hi Christy! I love this little shelf cabinet. Next time try BOSS by Dixie Belle. What color is your oops color? I just love this piece.

    • Thank you, Cheryl! I have never tried that before and I will definitely give it a go, thank you! The oops paint is a Behr color and I matched it to Loft Space. XOXO

  5. Petra Tocco says

    What a handy little cupboard to have – very nice ????

  6. Good tip to use wax when you have bleed through! I think this piece was originally a cabinet to store sheet music. I’ll bet that it used to have way more shelves in it. I have one that stays to the left of my fireplace and I use it to store napkins.

    Love the dollhouse! I need to get back to DC sometimes.

    • I bet you are right, Paula! Thank you for letting me know. That would explain the many shelf supports inside as well as the very thin shelves! I loved that dollhouse! If I could have brought it home, I would have ha ha! XOXO

  7. I love the door and though my favorite color is blue the white is so much better. I learn something new from you every week. I think this might be my favorite out of that haul.

  8. Janice Holt says

    Love this piece and the fretwork just makes it. I first thought you were going to just stain it and I thought “no way.” I should have known better than that. Another fabulous job.

    • Thank you, Janice! The fretwork is the star of the show for sure! And ha ha…you should know me better that by now! XOXO

  9. Christina in SW FL says

    Wow, Christy, this cabinet turned out beautifully!! Those little wheels on the bottom sure are helpful to sand, stain and paint! You get several gold stars for winning the bleed-through war with the inside of this cabinet.
    I love this in the bath yet it would be so cute just about anywhere.
    SO glad you and your family had such a great time in DC.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Thank you, Christina! Those wheels are very helpful! And absolutely…you could use this in just about any room. Have a great weekend too! XOXO

  10. You always do such a fantastic job. I learn from you. I would never thought you could paint over shellac or wax. That’s amazing.

  11. Terri Norkus says

    Christy: Bravo great job. Cabinet came out great with neutral color too. H appy Easter to you as well. -Terri from Cape Cod.

  12. I love that piece… could never find anything that cheap in my area. I don’t know if you have ever used kilz paint to prevent bleed through..but it does a good job. Keep a can of white… good for most projects. Love your work.

    • Thank you so much, Sandra! I usually don’t fare well at estate sales in my area as everything is always way overpriced. I think the family was holding this one so it was priced much more reasonably! I do have Kilz primer, but I feel like it needs more prep, and I did not want to sand the interior of this cabinet first. Maybe I should have! XOXO

  13. Carole Larsen says

    It turned out great…for all your additional work that is. I would like one of these in my kitchen for my china.

  14. So pretty!! It sounds like you had your work cut out for you with this one, but it ended up great.

  15. Julie Briones says

    I bet this sells fast! It would be perfect to hold my printer, etc. in my living room (my ‘everything’ room). Still looking for something similar here. Love it, Christy!

  16. so cute and it definitely would look great for extras in a bathroom! i love the Bit of Sugar contrast, so subtle!

  17. Hi Christy,
    Great piece! Are you putting it in your shop? I am actually looking for something in my bathroom and only live just north or you in MD. Dimensions?

    • Hi Candy! Thank you! It sits 24.5″W X 49″H X 16″D. Message me on FB or email me through my contact tab on the blog if you’re interested! XOXO

  18. Nice job, glad you stuck with this little jem. I really don’t understand how the clear wax helped cover up the bleed thru, I think of wax as similar to vasoline?? It is a little scary to hear about those bleed thru problems, I have a big secretary with a lot of fretwork that I want to refinish and I am sure it is mahogany.
    Good job though, gives me hope.

    • Thank you, Mary! The wax I use is more like shortening and the chalk paint absorbs it as you buff it in until it is no longer tacky to the touch, if that makes sense. You will definitely want to apply a coat or two of shellac before starting your secretary if you are using chalk paint. The key I believe is waiting enough time before painting over it, and I am always in a hurry lol! XOXO

  19. Kimmylouwho says

    That’s a really sweet-looking cabinet! Great job and how lucky to find it at that price!

  20. Very pretty! Wow, if you did all that work back-to-back with no “I QUIT!” breaks… I’m not sure you’re human, haha! There should be a perseverance award! You win!

  21. Quick question, why don’t you use primer to combat bleed thru? Wouldn’t that prevent that headache? Thank you.

    • Hi Linda! Primer usually requires sanding first and I did not want to sand the interior of this piece. I probably should have though!

  22. Dear Christy –
    Love your final piece!!! I wish I lived closer so I could buy it. Perfect for a bathroom piece I’m looking for.

    You are one of my favorite bloggers..hope you can keep up the great work! I know all the time you must invest, but your fans love you!

    Thanks for sharing all your expertise and your friendship!

  23. So great you got away!!! Love Washington DC! We visited years back when it was designated Code Orange (which made it super interesting) and I also loved the National Archives Museum and the Library of Congress! Anyway, a beautiful makeover. Looks so clean and fresh and I love your styling. What is the Logan Point Driver for, Christy?… never heard of this.

    • Ooh yes! It was so nice! I bet it was crazy being there during a code orange!! The point driver is an awesome tool that shoots these little metal “points” into any kind of frame to hold the backing in place, or in this case, the door frame to hold the glass and fretwork in place. Much easier than using small nails! I love it! Have a great weekend! XOXO

  24. Constance Colvin says

    Thanks Christy! I enjoy your makeovers so much! You are so inventive and talented…..and skilled! {-:

  25. Mariele Storm says

    Beautiful lines on this piece… you persevered through that bleedthrough! I think I would have given up and painted the inside pink. 😉 Looks great!

    I’ve always wanted to visit the Smithsonian…! That dollhouse was incredible. So glad you had a fun trip with the family. 🙂

    • Thank you, Mariele! This is a unique piece for sure. There is so much to see in DC, definitely more than we had time for, but what we saw was awesome…that dollhouse <3!! XOXO

  26. Oh Christy…this cabinet went from creepy to stunningly gorgeous! I wish I lived close by, because I would buy it off you in a heartbeat! Some lucky person will be blessed to have this unique piece in their home. Great makeover 🙂

  27. j. lynn ward says

    Hello Mrs. Wonderfully talented amazing person. Thank You for sharing you skills, art abilities & more. I’m saving as many of your projects as possible to assist me in my adventures not fully grown up but right now it’s my side kick$$. Please tell me where to purchase the #4 rollers used in your Estate Cabinet Makeover…I NEED THEM IN MY LIFE???? keep amazing me and many others.

  28. Hi there, that is a beautiful piece. But I do like the contrasting before pictures of the cabinet better. The door and the insert look more interesting than all painted the same color. But that is just my two cents. Nice piece for that money

    • The door is actually white and the rest is grey. There is more of a contrast when you see it in person. Thanks for your thoughts! XO

  29. Mrs. Kelley Dibble says

    Good morning and håfa adai from Guam!

    After showing us the beautiful old dollhouse, I honestly expected to see you turn this piece into a dollhouse! Of course, now I am thinking of getting a delightful cabinet like this and turning into… a dollhouse! I’ve been gathering teensy pieces for one for ages. Now that I have two newborn granddaughters, and another ???grandhild??? on the way (BOYS like dollhouses, too!) I want to do just that! It may have to be one that has room for a step-up box/stool to slide out from under it, but my creative wheels are already turning.

    Thanks for the inspiration and all-around tips! I have learned SOOO much from your blog! Seriously, I glean something new with every post.


    • You are so stinking smart!! I LOVE that idea! Now why didn’t I think of that? Hmmm…now you’ve got me thinking ha ha! I hope you find a cabinet because that is a great idea. Thank you so much for following along with me!! XOXO

  30. The cabinet looks great! You persisted in getting the inside of it without any bleed-through so you could paint. Cuss words, cuss words…lol…

  31. Oh, this is adorable! You always have the perfect makeover solution. You inspire me.

  32. Kim Wollmer says

    I saw that dollhouse too on a trip to DC. I must have stood there for half an hour ooing and ahhhhing. Fun, fun! Love the cabinet!

  33. Sandi Wagner says

    Happy Easter Christy! Thanks for the reminder of the National Archives Museum! My husband and I history buffs…and we need to go there for a visit. I have been there with the kiddos during many field trips from Richmond….but that was 763 years ago! LOL! Love the piece and can’t wait to see what you do with the little boxes!

    • Thank you, Sandi! Yes you definitely need to go to DC again! I was amazed at all the many documents that are on display in the Archives Museum! XOXO

  34. Cecilia from Georgia says

    Hi Christy, I just got my wheelies that you showed on one of your posts and don’t know how I have moved anything big before….my back thanks you!! The subtle contrast is so cool and different in this cabinet, I love anything with fretwork. Hate that you had the bleed-through demons and I always thought that painting over wax was not possible…see!! I have learned another new trick from you! Glad you had a safe and fun trip to DC and have a Blessed Easter! XOXO

    • Those wheelies are fantastic! And thank you! I’m so glad I can still share new information!! We really did enjoy our trip, thanks! A blessed Easter to you and yours as well! XOXO

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.